Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Catholic Social Teaching and Myself: Brief Explanation and Clarification


By Catholic apologist Dave Armstrong

 [initially a reaction to criticisms made by those of various political persuasions, on my Facebook page]


The Catholic Church is not officially pacifist (i.e., opposed to all wars or use of lethal force whatsoever, for any reason). It acknowledges the God-given prerogative of states to bear the sword (CCC #2308) and details the criteria of just war (2309-2310). Of course we try to avoid war, as we are strongly urged by the Church to do (2308, 2327). But it's not always possible in an evil world. Thus, Catholics can't argue that support for any war effort whatever is intrinsically contrary to Catholic social teaching. Good Catholics and honest, informed men can differ in good faith on particulars regarding armed conflict.

Some want to argue that (among current Republican candidates in this early primary process), only Ron Paul is consistent with Catholic teaching. I respond that Catholics are allowed to argue for war in particular instances, according to just war criteria -- war is not intrinsically evil in every case -- but they are not allowed to advocate the position of allowable abortion in the cases of rape and incest: which Ron Paul does (as I documented in a Facebook discussion thread).

Thus, Ron Paul goes directly against Catholic social teaching and advocates murder insofar as he does that. Catholic Rick Santorum (among these candidates); also Michele Bachmann (evangelical Protestant) do not allow those exceptions, in terms of advocacy (and Gingrich and Perry also appear to have recently adopted this more consistent and "Catholic" position). Senator Santorum has voted for some measures, however, that include that, in order to prevent as many abortions as possible (less total numbers of abortions, if it is not politically or legally possible to prevent all), which is permissible under Catholic social teaching and political philosophy.

If Paul supporters want to argue that "their guy" alone fits with Catholic teaching, they are factually incorrect. He advocates intrinsic evil in that instance, whereas, e.g., taking out Iran's nuclear plant (something Santorum favors) is not intrinsically evil at all. It is the opposition to quite possible mass murder and annihilation of cities: a measure that is quite agreeable with Catholic teaching. It's not targeting populations, but rather, nuclear power plants (which is not the same as exploding a nuclear bomb over a city).

Some political critics of mine claim that I write with little or no knowledge of Catholic social teaching. This is sheer nonsense. I have, e.g., written extensively on the evil of our nuclear bombing of Japan. This raised such a fuss that I actually lost a friend over it, and he uttered more bitter, slanderous words against me (all in public) than even the most virulent anti-Catholic Protestants ever have. I've also critiqued other immoral actions in World War II, such as carpet bombing of cities.

I have written publicly that the United States is the wickedest nation in world history due to abortion: hardly a typical conservative perspective. And I first stated that shortly after 9-11, and said that this could possibly be the beginning of judgment for the US. I caught tremendous hell for that. In other words, I am not guilty of the Americanist heresy of (among other things) glorifying America over against the Church. I'm not "more American than Catholic," or "more politically conservative than Catholic."

I have written about a Catholic "third way" that is ultimately neither conservative nor liberal.

I've critiqued corporate capitalism in no uncertain terms and have stated that I like distributism and subsidiarity. I have severely critiqued libertarianism, that is often rampant in conservative circles, as a quite insufficiently Catholic political philosophy. I have argued for progressive almsgiving (i.e., rich people give a lot more, by percentage) rather than a straight 10% rate ("tithing").

I've written a lot about the great evil of racism, and condemned it in no uncertain terms.

I've outlined the nuanced Catholic perspective on illegal immigration.

I oppose the death penalty, except in the very worst case scenarios, such as terrorism or mass murderers (the pope made clear -- in 2004 -- that Catholics and states have the right to do so, without being considered in violation of the Church's teaching).


Many of these things are not "conservative" emphases at all, or at least not prominent "talking points."

We can disagree in good faith without the condescending descriptions of each others' views. I was with an old Baptist friend of mine on New Year's Day who is a democratic socialist in politics. We get along fine. We have respect for each other. I have homosexual friends, atheist friends, Muslim friends, tons of Protestant friends, people of all kinds of political persuasions and ethnic groups. I get along with anyone. I allow any viewpoint to be expressed on my Facebook page or my blog, as long as it is charitable and civil.

There is such a thing as a just war, and folks like myself can legitimately argue that particular wars qualify as such (and other Catholics can and do argue that no war in the history of the world ever did, but they can't claim that others are not allowed to disagree with them and still remain good Catholics). Reasonable men in good faith can disagree. We are allowed to.

I don't claim to be any sort of expert at all on Catholic social teaching. I have many other things that I am far more concentrated on, as an apologist (doctrinal and theological, rather than social). I readily grant that many Catholics know a lot more than I do about it in very many particulars. 

What I take strong exception to, however, is the claim that I am rejecting Catholic social teaching (or am grossly ignorant of it altogether) simply because I take what are regarded as "conservative" views on some issues (I would classify it as "progressive conservatism"), such as broad foreign policy and ways to improve the lot of the poor and underprivileged. Not true at all . . .And arguably, sometimes such critics can be said to be (at least in some respects) "more politically liberal than Catholic." Certainly, those who vote for pro-abortion politicians (given a choice of a pro-lifer) are acting in such a manner in that respect.


***

35 comments:

4LifeNLiberty said...

Please site your reference for claiming that Ron Paul supports exceptions for rape & incest.

Newt said as much to Piers Morgan a couple months ago.

Santorum not only has a very questionable history with big lobbyists, he outright lies on his website that his PBA bill ended PBA in America. It absolutely did not. He will lead us into WW3 with his foreign policy.

Dave Armstrong said...

I did link above when I mentioned this. Follow that link. And the proper word is "cite" (from "citation") not "site."

He said it in his own book and also co-sponsored two bills that made these exceptions. I documented all of that in my article.

Sorry to crush your excessive expectations of your hero . . .

4LifeNLiberty said...

Dave, I followed the link, but it goes to another article you wrote in which I can also find no citation for your claim that Ron Paul supports those exceptions.
The quote in his book you reference is being misunderstood by many -- I misunderstood it at first. In that quote he's not advocating the Morning After Pill, Emergency Contraception, etc. - he's saying that it will remain very easy for doctors to give out these abortifacients despite any laws criminalizing abortion. He's not saying that we should therefore not have such laws - quite the contrary - he's trying to empower the States to criminalize abortion without unconstitutional Supreme Court interference. The point he's making by saying that The Morning After Pill will still be administered illegally is that we cannot rely on laws alone to end abortion ---- we must never rest when it comes to evangelizing our society to embrace life & the Lord of Life, so that individuals will resist choosing these forms of abortion that will remain so easy to obtain illegally despite the best laws. Lastly, Dave, maybe you've experienced some folks who are pushy with their support of Ron Paul. Not all of us are like that. Can we not just discuss it without petty criticisms and subtle/not-so-subtle personal insults?

Paul Hoffer said...

Excellent article Dave! I often get chided by some of my Catholic friends for being a conservative as opposed to being liberal particularly when it comes to issues involving the poor and underprivileged. They argue that it is the government's role to help the poor and underprivileged through various social programs and that we as Catholics should support those programs. The problem I see though is that welfare programs often break up and undermine families, foster immorality,and exploit the poor by making them permanently dependent on the government for food, shelter, health care. All the poor are good for. in their mind, is a vote every four years. Moreover. one finds historically that the church sponsored welfare programs are better managed, better able to service those in need (programs are more defined and targeted) and allow us as Christians to participate and serve our neighbor rather than relying on the government to do it for us.

Now we see the government actively seeking to target Catholic charitable health care institutions, adoption/foster care agencies, and aid societies because unless they give up their Catholic identity and principles.

Jesus Christ calls on each of us to serve our brothers and sisters, neighbors and communities, not to pass that responsibility off to a government (in the form of taxes) that is at odds in many respects with the teachings of the Church.

God bless!

Dave Armstrong said...

You're right. I have interacted with many Paul supporters who are what I call "Paul or bust." Nothing personal . . . Since you started in saying Santorum was a liar, I assumed it was more of the same . . .

The article linked to a further Facebook discussion, where the documentation occurred (I've corrected the link in my paper). You have to have a Facebook account.

Paul wrote in wrote in his 2011 book, Defining Liberty (p. 5: this can be seen on the amazon book page, using the search feature):

"Very early pregnancies and victims of rape can be treated with the day after pill, which is nothing more than using birth control pills in a special manner. These very early pregnancies could never be policed, regardless. Such circumstances would be dealt with by each individual making his or her own moral choice."

I commented:

"It can't be defended. He equated the day after pill with "birth control; hence abortion with contraception. He allows there each individual making a 'moral' choice: which includes murder."

One of his defenders then claimed that he was inarticulate in this quote. I replied:

"This is implausible, too. Now you expect me to believe that an obstetrician (and presidential candidate), writing in his own book, cannot even properly state his position on the exception clauses, and it was merely a bad piece of writing. I don't buy it. He knew exactly what he was talking about. The fact that it is his field makes it virtually inconceivable that he could have botched it so badly. This is his true opinion.

"If I was that careless in my field, in one of my books (say about the Trinity or Grace Alone or something like that), I would withdraw it from the market or change it. I do know a little about being a writer and having books, and the scrutiny involved in that if there is an editor."

[more below]

Dave Armstrong said...

Excellent observations, Paul. And I agree all down the line (as usual!). Happy new year to you and yours.

Dave Armstrong said...

I wrote, further, in the Facebook thread:

"Whether it can be enforced is indeed a separate issue and troublesome one. But note that he is even against making a prohibitive law in the first place (on principle). This is typical libertarian moral mush: just allow people to do as they please: up to and including killing their own child if a rape happens to have occurred. This mentality calls for legalizing of drugs, prostitution, etc."

And:

"This is, of course, precisely a 'pro-choice' position with regard to these [exception] circumstances. Paul says he doesn't believe a law should be involved, since people will do what they like, anyway, and it can't be enforced (a staple argument of abortion advocates, pre-Roe); so let them have the choice and keep the law out of it. That is the very essence of the diabolical pro-choice 'logic.' He simply applies it in the special cases only rather than in all cases, like a full-fledged pro-abort does. He's personally opposed, but not to the extent that he will advocate a law prohibiting these outrages. Pro-choice . . .

"Any politician who takes this position is doing the same thing. I utterly condemn the position across the board. Bachmann and Santorum are the consistent ones on this issue."

Paul co-sponsored the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion" Act - It "Provides that such prohibitions shall not apply to an abortion if: (1) the pregnancy is the result of forcible rape or, if the pregnant woman is a minor, incest; . . ."

He also co-sponsored the Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act. It contains the same exception clauses.

The Paul supporter honestly replied:

"As to the cosponsored bills you cited, indeed that is troubling & I'm going to research that more. Will get back to you."

She hasn't yet, as I recall, and it's been 11 days. Perhaps she still will.

Dave Armstrong said...

Also, you object to me saying that Ron Paul is your hero, yet I can find out nothing about you; not even your name. All I know is that you like a blog called "Ron Paul Right." Thus it appears (from all I can learn) that your identity is wrapped up in Ron Paul, as I can learn nothing else whatever about you and a person. I hope not, but I'm saying this is all that you are presenting online.

It's the usual annoying Internet anonymity game . . .

Paul said...

While I'm definitely not a fan of Ron Paul, I think you've radically misunderstood his arguments about legal issues around rape and the morning-after-pill. His argument, unpacked a little more fully, goes like this:

(1) For around the first week after conception, there is no way of testing if someone is pregnant.

(2) During that week someone (perhaps a rape victim) could take the morning-after pill (which is essentially a stronger dose of commonly-available birth-control pills) with the intention of preventing a conception (this is obviously a legitimate intention of a rape victim).

(3) In some cases (though this is not known for sure), a possible separate effect of the morning-after pill might be to kill a conceived child. In the first week after conception, because of (1), there is no way of telling if this occurred.

(4) Since there is no way of telling exactly what the effect of taking the morning-after pill is, there is no way of policing this.

(5) Since there is no way of policing this, it is reasonable for a government to decline to pass a law that is completely unenforceable.

I'm not at all sure what part of such an argument you find unreasonable.

As for his support for the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion" bill, you have provided no evidence at all that a (e.g.) faithful Catholic could not vote for that bill. In fact, they could, if a more stringent bill could not pass. (Evangelium Vitae points this out.)

Dave Armstrong said...

I explained exactly what my objection was; no need to reiterate it, while I am busy doing other work today. Most of my rationale, you simply passed over, so I see no reason in your comments to revise my opinion.

As for your last paragraph, it is a moot point to tell me since I already expressed the same thing in a comment regarding Santorum in the article itself.

However, it is legitimate to distinguish between a bill that one co-sponsored and/or drafted oneself, and voting for one that may not be ideal, but is better than alternative scenarios.

Since Paul co-sponsored the bills, I think it is reasonable to assume that these are his views; otherwise he would have written the bill differently.

I suppose, though, it could be explained as an instance of realpolitik or suchlike.

Paul said...

Dave Armstrong: "I see no reason in your comments to revise my opinion"

Then I have no cause to change my conclusion that you have misrepresented Ron Paul. If you say "Ron Paul says X", and I reply that "No, Ron Paul is saying Y", I am not somehow passing over your rationale, I am directly and concretely opposing it.

Ron Paul has never said that these early undetectable abortions are morally good -- he's said that they should not be a matter of civil law.

Dave Armstrong: "Since Paul co-sponsored the bills, I think it is reasonable to assume that these are his views"

Why? It could be that they are his views, or it could be that he sees the bill as something that could actually pass, and he accordingly he supports it by putting his name on as a co-sponsor. Without some quote from Ron Paul directly addressing the issue, it's just guessing.

Dave Armstrong: "otherwise he would have written the bill differently."

If you look at (e.g.) the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion" bill online, there are a large number of co-sponsors of the bill. They don't each get to write whatever they like into the bill. It's a joint effort.

If one was to judge according to the standards you suggest, why shouldn't we conclude that Rick Santorum is equally to be condemned? After all, he has sponsored (not just co-sponsored) and passed into law a bill which explicitly permits some direct abortions.

Dave Armstrong said...

I allowed the possibility of realpolitik. I continue to maintain that his position on the exceptions is a "pro-choice" one (as it is also for Romney and Huntsman). The reasoning is identical to that of the pro-aborts for all abortion: it can't be policed, so make it legal.

You think I am misrepresenting. I am saying this is the logical reduction or [moral] reductio ad absurdum of Paul's positions. Reasonable analysis has to be applied to it. We disagree.

He ain't gonna get the nomination anyway so it is much ado about nothing in the end.

Paul said...

Dave Armstrong: "The reasoning is identical to that of the pro-aborts for all abortion: it can't be policed, so make it legal."

No, the reasoning not remotely identical. Ron Paul points to a case when it is literally impossible for anyone to know whether a pregnancy exists or not, and says that a civil law shouldn't be passed to cover such a circumstance. I don't know of any pro-abort who is making that argument.

Dave Armstrong: "I am saying this is the logical reduction or [moral] reductio ad absurdum of Paul's positions."

Picking a less-favorable possible interpretation of some remarks that are not in themselves totally clear will never, ever, in the history of the universe, amount to a genuine reductio ad absurdum.

Dave Armstrong said...

And so we have heard from our second anonymous source today. Thanks for your input.

Paul Hoffer said...

Hi Dave, with all of the Pauls around here, one would think you are hosting a convention of Pauls. Anyhow, Happy New Years to you and yours as well!!!

Hi Paul, you wrote: "Ron Paul points to a case when it is literally impossible for anyone to know whether a pregnancy exists or not, and says that a civil law shouldn't be passed to cover such a circumstance. I don't know of any pro-abort who is making that argument."

Me, Actually Paul, pro-aborts make the same sort of argument all the time. It is a variation of the old "aborton is ok because one can not when ensoulment actually occurs argument." One can not know when the fetus is viable...one can not know when the fetus feels pain...one can not know when the fetus' brain has activity...one can not know when the fetus' heart starts beating...etc. etc. The argument above is just a little further down on the same continuum of the pro-abort slippery slope. Catholic moral teaching compels us as Catholics to advocate laws that build a hedge against laws that could be used as a stepping stone or precedent to advocate abortion.

That said, I do see where one could argue that Ron Paul is practicing an incremental policy to abolish abortion by getting laws passed to limit some abortions because the political climate would not allow more. I just have not heard Ron Paul himself make that argument justifying his support for such laws.

Since you are advocating Ron Paul's view in regards to abortion, are you familiar with his views on some of the other aspects of Catholic social teaching that Dave touched upon in his article?

God bless!

Maroun said...

Hi Dave .
I need to ask you a very important question please ?
I live in Finland and soon we are going to have the presidential elections . Among 8 candidates for the first round , only two are against abortion and one of them is catholic , so there is no doubt who is going to have my vote .
Now the question is this . If neither of the two candidates which are pro life will make it to the second round , and the two candidates which might make it are both pro choice (which is of course nothing else as pro death ) but one of the two candidates which might make it to the second round is also a homosexual and pro same sex marriages (you can immagine what kind of a bright future we have ahead of us ) . In the begining i thought not to vote if the candidates are pro choice , but on the other hand , if i dont vote , the next president could also be pro death and pro same sex marriages . So my question is , should i vote for the better person even if both are bad?
Thank you very much Dave and GBU

Just another mad Catholic said...

With all due respect Dave my understanding is that whiles Dr Paul is personally pro-life, a Paul White House wouldn't be reinstating the mexico city policy or using the powers of the federal government to advance the pro-life cause.

As for Santourum, he is a little too hot-headed for my liking; he seems to be hell-bent (pardon my language) on waging yet another expensive war in the name of freedom. Perhaps there is some potential there, but I'd rather he sit out 4-8 years as VPOTUS before he becomes POTUS

Whilst I disagree with Dr Paul on a wide variety of issues I would vote for him If I was an American, he seems to be the most authentic candidate of the lot and in my opinion the one who has the best chance of beating Obama

Paul said...

Paul Hoffer: "Actually Paul, pro-aborts make the same sort of argument all the time."

I never denied that they make that sort of argument. I said that I hadn't heard them make that argument, i.e. that specific (supposedly "identical") argument that I referred to. I was replying to Dave Armstrong's claim that Ron Paul's argument was identical to that of pro-aborts. (I know what the word identical means.) You're making the very much less specific claim that it's the sort of argument that pro-aborts make.

Paul Hoffer: "Catholic moral teaching compels us as Catholics to advocate laws that build a hedge against laws that could be used as a stepping stone or precedent to advocate abortion."

A hedge? If I am compelled to support such a hedge as a matter of Catholic moral teaching, could you please provide me some quotation from official teaching from which I can deduce such a thing? That will easily convince me.

Paul Hoffer: "Since you are advocating Ron Paul's view in regards to abortion"

I haven't advocated Ron Paul's views in regards to abortion.

Instead, I've essentially been defending the necessity of making reasoned, charitable and impartial arguments about someone's position, no matter who they are.

Look, here's (an example of) what Dave Armstrong has been arguing:

(DA's Claim-A) "Catholics [..] are not allowed to advocate the position of allowable abortion in the cases of rape and incest..."

I think that Claim-A is correct.

(DA's Claim-B) "...which Ron Paul does..."

At which point I think to myself, "Hmm, that sounds a bit unlike Ron Paul. But perhaps it's true. I wonder how Ron Paul came to such a conclusion despite all the other very strong pro-life claims he has been making. I wonder what the evidence is."

(DA's Claim-C) "...as I documented in a Facebook discussion thread"

So I follow the link to the Facebook thread, and I find this as (some of) the evidence Dave gives: "[Ron] Paul co-sponsored the 'No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion' Act - It 'Provides that such prohibitions shall not apply to an abortion if: (1) the pregnancy is the result of forcible rape or, if the pregnant woman is a minor, incest; [..]'"

There were 227 other sponsors or co-sponsors of that bill. All that one can reasonably deduce is that Ron Paul was definitely in favor of passing the bill.

Putting these three claims together, Dave seems to be claiming that Ron Paul wanted to pass a bill that contains an exception for abortion in the case of rape or incest, and that means that he was advocating in favor of such an exception, and that is something that is forbidden to Catholics -- and hence Ron Paul's pro-life credentials are compromised.

And the grave problem with that line of argument is that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops was also definitely in favor of passing that bill.

Dave's line of argument aimed at condemning Ron Paul, taken impartially, also condemns the USCCB.

So something has gone seriously wrong with the argument. The Dave Armstrong who in the past has carefully and patiently endeavored to expose every flawed argument of a Protestant against Catholic teaching is somehow not working the same way in the political arena.

Paul Hoffer said...

Hello Paul, As far as hedge building, all one needs to do is look at what Our Lord did at the Semon on the Mount (Mt. 5-7).

As far as identical vs. sort, when one is on a slippery slope, one fails to see how the two can mean the same thing.

You also claim that you are not advocating for Sen. Paul, but at least here in the context of debating, you claim that Dave got his position on abortion wrong and seek to present an alternate view of what he advocates. Thus, as Dave's antagonist (debating wise in this box) you are defending Ron Paul's position. Where I come from, that is advocating.

For purposes of the discussion between us Pauls, I acknowledged the ambiguity in supporting legislation that allows for some abortions. One could argue that Sen Paul took an incremental approach consistent with Catholic teaching or one can make the argument that he believes that abortion is acceptable in the case of rape or very early pregnancies when noonr but God knows whether the woman is pregnant. My inquiry at the end of my last comment was to seek to remove the ambiguity so we all would know what Ron Paul's view actually is. It still needs answering if you are able to do so.

God bless!

Dave said...

After reading Paul's position carefully, I don't think he supports an exception for the day-after pill, but rather thinks it's impractical to create a law against it.

Since all of the other candidates are "Democrat lite" inasmuch as they support big government (just not quite as much as the Dems) and mostly support the possibility of pre-emptive war, I'm still going to vote for Paul. Paul is also the only one that will do something about our debt problem, follow the Constitution, and follow more closely the Catholic principle of subsidiarity (at least more decisions would be made at the state level instead of the federal level) That said, he probably won't win.

I'll vote for whoever the GOP nominates as an alternative to Obama, but I don't believe he'll be a lot better. Just a little better, and that probably won't be enough to rescue our country from its drift towards oblivion.

Dave Armstrong said...

Hi Maroun,

I think if you have no good choices, you are permitted to choose the "lesser of the evils" under Catholic principles: the one who is relatively better according to Catholic belief.

Dave Armstrong said...

I think the "co-sponsor" argument is by far the weaker of the two that I made, per the criticisms of it made, that indeed have some validity.

What Paul wrote in his book is the stronger argument. A Paul supporter tried to defend it as inarticulate, and I gave a counter-reply, reproduced above, that stands, as far as I am concerned, unless someone convinces me otherwise.

If Paul would simply state outright what his OWN position was: his own belief, apart from politics and strategic / legal considerations, we wouldn't even be debating it. But he wanted to play games when asked about it in the debate, and nuance it to death, just like a typical politician. Now I think his supporters attempt to spin his remarks, too.

Thus, from the data I know about, I can only draw my own conclusions, minus more definite pronouncements from Paul. Of course I might get it wrong (being a human being), but in the absence of absolutely clear statements yay or nay, whose fault is that? I never claimed to be infallible. I go by the available evidence, as I find and see it. Someone disagrees? Great. That's what discussion of ideas is about.

The states vs. federal legislation thing is a separate issue, and I have argued that Paul's position in some key respects is logically similar or indistinguishable from so-called "pro-choice" reasoning.

Dave Armstrong said...

And Paul's libertarian view is also similar to states' rights / Southern or confederate / pro-slavery reasoning regarding slavery pre-1865: a position that virtually no one defends anymore.

Some things are matters of federal law and rights. The right to life is one of them. But that is the ideal. If we can only do the states' thing for now, then (I agree) we do it to save lives, while not denying that a complete federal solution is the ideal that we must still strive to achieve.

The ultimate goal can never be lost sight of. Like the battle against slavery, it may take generations, because entrenched sin is very difficult to "legally dislodge."

Paul Hoffer said...

Hi Maroun, just to add to what Dave wrote, here is a link to a brochure that Catholic Answers put out that spells things out a bit more:
http://www.caaction.com/pdf/Voters-Guide-Catholic-English-1.pdf

I have used it myself as a hnady checklist to remind myself what is acceptable as there have been many times where both candidates were pro-aborts. There have been many times in the 30+ years I have voted where my conscience did not allow me to vote for anyone.

God bless!

Paul Hoffer said...

Maroun,

Btw, how close is the Finnish system of electing national leaders to what you have seen in the US?

God bless!

Dave Armstrong said...

I wrote on a Facebook thread on mark Shea's page, about Paul and abortion:

***

I don't think he is "pro-abortion"; he is partially inconsistent, since (I believe) he applies some reasoning that is identical to that which pro-aborts use. It's a logical point of disagreement. But the statement in his book is, I think, troublesome, and I explained why I think it is, from where I sit.

Also, if the issue is that he (flat-out or in effect) supports intrinsic evil, then we are back to square one with that objection to any candidate.

If he thinks there can be no law regarding certain things (rape and incest clause) then the result of that is absolutely identical to a pro-abort thinking that abortion should be legal because it'll happen anyway and the prohibition is not able to be enforced.

Paul simply restricts that scenario to exception cases. The result is the same: babies die (partially as the result of the lack of a law). We shouldn't give up on enforcement when lives are at stake, but work to find a way to enforce!

The law has a large moral component: to enshrine what is right and just as a legal matter. We outlaw abortion because it is murder and a matter of basic rights given by God; not based on whether it can be enforced or not. But of course that is part of the fundamental flaws of libertarianism.

Resident said...

I don't think that Paul's cosponsorship of a bill means that he necessarily advocates an exception for rape. He might as so many do, he mightn't and only see this bill as the best attainable bill.

Things are different in regard to the morning after pill. Though Paul argues that a law would be impractical (which is untrue - the state could outlaw abortifacient drugs and would only have to keep an eye on the manufacturers) he merely looks on what an individual woman might do with the drug. This all-too-easy outlook betrays a lack of concern for the issue.

Some defend this behaviour as mere realpolitik - but how does such an defense square with the image publicized of Ron Paul, the man of unyielding principles?

This is not to say that one cannot vote in good conscience for the man as the best option (and IMHO Dave did not argue this way either). But it shows that he is not the saint his fanatical followers advertise him as.

Paul said...

Paul Hoffer: "Hello Paul, As far as hedge building, all one needs to do is look at what Our Lord did at the Semon on the Mount (Mt. 5-7)"

That seems to be about avoiding even small evils. It doesn't seem to me to be about hedge-building. So perhaps it would help me if you could give some more precise idea about what "hedge-building" is to you.

Paul Hoffer: "you are defending Ron Paul's position"

No. I am claiming that his position is being misinterpreted -- or, at the least, that it is very easily capable of an interpretation other than the one that Dave Armstrong has picked out. I am also claiming that he is being criticized for doing things that are not criticized when other people do them.

Paul Hoffer: "My inquiry at the end of my last comment was to seek to remove the ambiguity so we all would know what Ron Paul's view actually is. It still needs answering if you are able to do so. [Referring back to: are you familiar with his views on some of the other aspects of Catholic social teaching that Dave touched upon in his article?]"

Sorry, I am not a supporter or fan of Ron Paul, and know only a little about his beliefs.

Dave Armstrong said...

I am also claiming that he is being criticized for doing things that are not criticized when other people do them.

I stated more than once that any politician who holds these views is wrong. E.g., in this very combox thread (as well as elsewhere in my many recent political discussions):

"Any politician who takes this position is doing the same thing. I utterly condemn the position across the board."

"I continue to maintain that his position on the exceptions is a 'pro-choice' one (as it is also for Romney and Huntsman)."

[these two are from this combox]

Perhaps I discuss Paul more in this post because I have been catching the most flak from Paul supporters and he is lifted up as this figure supposedly way above the fray of other politicians. But I condemn the position no matter who holds it, including when Gingrich held it (until recently): and he is my favorite of all the candidates.

Thus the criticism is without foundation and demonstrably untrue: insofar as you intended it as a criticism of me (which stands to reason, since my name was mentioned in the preceding sentence).

Paul said...

Dave Armstrong: "I stated more than once that any politician who holds these views is wrong. E.g., in this very combox thread [..] 'Any politician who takes this position is doing the same thing. I utterly condemn the position across the board.' "

The point of contention is not whether you hold that principle, but whether it is being applied equally to all. (I note that in the very next sentence after the quote you give, you said "Bachmann and Santorum are the consistent ones on this issue.")

One thing you said about Ron Paul was: "If he thinks there can be no law regarding certain things (rape and incest clause) then the result of that is absolutely identical to a pro-abort thinking that abortion should be legal".

But the evidence supplied that Ron Paul thinks such a thing is simply that the rape and incest exception is part of a bill that he supported. If that is really the standard of evidence needed, then we should note that Bachmann also co-sponsored the same bill that the rape/incest exception was in. We should also note that the USCCB went on record as supporting the passing of that bill. And we should note that Santorum sponsored a bill that also has an exception (the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 -- that bill has an exception that allows a direct partial-birth abortion if the mother's health is in danger.)

Then where is your consistency in treatment between Ron Paul, Santorum, and Bachmann?

(In fact, I don't think that the fact that a bill has an exception allowing direct abortion in some circumstances necessarily proves anything about the supporters of such a bill. It may simply be that the exception is there because sufficient people would vote the bill down if it wasn't present, and the rest of the bill is sufficiently good that the exception has to be choked down.)

Dave Armstrong said...

Since I have already conceded that there are realpolitik considerations and that the sponsorship of a bill was a fairly weak argument, there is nothing new here. The heart of my objection remains the quotation from Ron Paul's book.

Thus far, no one has even attempted to grapple with my arguments regarding that (and counter-arguments).

Instead, we have harping over things that have already been dealt with more than once.

Paul said...

Dave Armstrong: "Since I have already conceded that there are realpolitik considerations and that the sponsorship of a bill was a fairly weak argument, there is nothing new here."

You continued to use the rape/incest argument after you had said it was a weak argument. So you both think it is weak, but good enough to publish. Not really so weak then? And even if it's "weak", it's still being applied in a biased way.

Dave Armstrong: "The heart of my objection remains the quotation from Ron Paul's book. Thus far, no one has even attempted to grapple with my arguments regarding that"

The book is called "Liberty Defined" (not "Defining Liberty", as you've called it a couple of times). Going over just the comments here, myself and about three other people just don't read that passage the same way you do. A very limited amount of "grappling" is possible when there just isn't agreement on what the passage says.

Dave Armstrong said...

Going over just the comments here, myself and about three other people just don't read that passage the same way you do.

I guess that clinches it, then, huh? Three people, after all!

While you take head counts (the ad populum fallacy), I've made my arguments and counter-arguments. If you wish to ignore them and engage in mere monologue, ignoring the actual substance and particulars, then do so. It's a free country.

Thus far, that's what you have done. If you continue to do so, then I will simply ignore you, and folks will know why, since I am stating so here. I engage in back-and-forth dialogue, where the other guy's arguments are actually directly dealt with, not ignored for the purpose of more monolithic, oblivious preaching.

I tired of Ron Paul discussions at least a week ago. And this thread (along with many others on my Facebook page) is ample illustration of why.

I do thank you for the rare factual clarification of Paul's book title, though. I made the outrageous (obviously intentional) error of reversing the words in it.

Paul said...

Dave Armstrong: "While you take head counts (the ad populum fallacy)"

Had I attempted to prove that my reading of the passage was correct by appeal to head-count then it would have been the ad populum fallacy. But in fact I was pointing out a reason why you were seeming to get so little grappling with your arguments -- because quite a sizeable fraction of people simply don't read the passage the same way as you.

Dave Armstrong: "I do thank you for the rare factual clarification of Paul's book title, though. I made the outrageous (obviously intentional) error of reversing the words in it."

Your very first comment in this thread pointed out a minor error. Is it somehow only other people's minor errors that are worth pointing out?

Dave Armstrong said...

Since you have again (despite my urging and virtual pleading) refused to grapple with my actual argumentation about Paul's statement in his book (that I re-posted in this thread), and want to continue nitpicking and majoring on the minors, I am now closing this thread.

I'm quite willing to revise my position on Paul's opinion as I understand it, if someone will merely give me good reason to do so. Failing that, there is no reason to change my mind.

Should you change your mind about making a rational argument in an attempt to overthrow my reasoning / interpretation, you can send me an e-mail, and I will be more than happy to post it here:

apologistdave [at] gmail [dot] com

If I do not post such a comment in this thread, readers can safely assume that it has not been attempted.

For my part, I will certainly not hold my breath waiting for the thing that has not yet been offered, despite my repeated. increasingly exasperated pleas for it to be.